I won’t waste any time with Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz’s assertions about the efficacy of gas sanctions, as I’ve already dealt with the issue in some detail. The authors trot out the usual claims, along with the usual absence of actual evidence to support them.
But I do want to take issue with Gerecht and Dubowitz’s claims about Iranian dissidents’ supposed support for gas sanctions. Responding to the view (held by the overwhelming majority of Iran analysts and Iranian opposition figures) that gas sanctions would actually weaken the opposition while strengthening the Revolutionary Guards, the authors insist that events since the June 12 presidential elections have “changed the entire political dynamic“:
If sanctions are waged in the name of the Iranian people, we are much more likely to see Western opinion remain solidly behind them. These sentiments will likely be reinforced by prominent Iranian dissidents who’ve moved from adamant opposition to severe sanctions to hesitant acceptance of the idea (Nobel Prize winner Shireen Ebadi, for instance).
As you may have gathered from the fact that the authors couldn’t find a single Iranian dissident to quote in support of their argument, the idea that Iranian dissidents would be interested in providing political cover for measures that would severely impact the same Iranian masses who they’re trying to recruit for their struggling movement is simply daft.
As for Shirin Ebadi’s “hesitant acceptance” of gas sanctions, here’s what Ebadi said earlier this month:
“I am against economic sanctions and military attacks. However, if the Iranian government continues to violate human rights and ignore people’s demands, then I start thinking about political sanctions,” Ebadi told a human rights forum on Iran. […]
“Wider economic sanctions only hurt innocent people and we are against that,” she said.
Ebadi’s view tracks with what I’ve heard from other Iranian activists — sanctions that target the regime can be good and helpful, but sanctions targeting the population, such as gas sanctions, will hurt the pro-democracy movement.
I’m trying to come up with a way in which Ebadi’s statement “I am against economic sanctions” could be plausibly interpreted as “I hesitantly accept economic sanctions,” but I can’t. So I’m left with the conclusion that Gerecht and Dubowitz are simply being dishonest. Which is entirely consistent with the rest of the arguments we’ve been seeing in favor of gas sanctions.